The New York Knicks have always been “New York’s Team.”
They are the most valuable NBA franchise with a value of $5 billion.
And they play in arguably the most iconic basketball arena – Madison Square Garden.
Their little brother, the Brooklyn Nets, has always played second fiddle to the historic New York franchise.
Nets-Knicks rivalry is already in midseason form 🍿 pic.twitter.com/EOKXB1URCD
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 16, 2021
The Nets immediately became title contenders with superstar players to market.
The Knicks are still the team many think of when they hear New York, but Brooklyn has the superior on-court product.
While the Knicks remain the more recognizable team off the court, when will they overtake the Nets on the court?
New York finished seven games behind Brooklyn last season behind a stifling defense and an All-Star leap from Julius Randle.
But New York will need more than one All-Star to contend with their city rivals.
When Will Nets Stars Break Up?
When the Knicks overtake the Nets may not be up to the Knicks.
As long as Durant, Irving, and Harden are on the same team, Brooklyn will be tough to beat.
They are three of the best scorers in the league who proved last year they can play together.
Brooklyn averaged 118.6 points per game last season which was the second-best mark in the league.
Harden had no problem switching his play-style from isolation-heavy scorer to playmaking distributer.
He averaged 10.8 assists per game and posted 12 triple-doubles in 36 games.
His willingness to take on a new role helped the Nets become the league’s most efficient offense.
Even while averaging double-digit assists, Harden still poured in 24.6 points per game.
Durant and Irving chipped in 26.9 points per game apiece as well.
And as of now, those three are signed through next season.
Durant is signed through 2024-25 and Harden and Irving have player options for 2022-23.
Nets GM Sean Marks on KD, Harden, Kyrie extensions: “I feel very confident that by the first day of training camp, we’ll be looking at those 3 in particular being signed, sealed and delivered and being a part of the Brooklyn Nets for a long time to come.” https://t.co/dgYqHNPtp9
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) August 12, 2021
With Durant being the oldest of the three at 33 years old, extensions would keep the three superstars with Brooklyn through the end of their primes.
Knicks Star Hunting
New York exceeded all expectations last season, jumping from a 21-45 record in 2019-20 to 41-31 this past season.
New coach Tom Thibodeau took a league-average defense and made them the league’s stingiest unit.
That defense paired with an All-Star season from Randle and a second-year improvement from RJ Barrett earned the Knicks the fourth seed and a home playoff series.
And Thibodeau took home Coach of the Year honors.
But things fell apart in the playoffs.
Trae Young picked apart the Knicks defense and they lacked scoring talent outside of Randle.
It was apparent New York needed a superstar to pair with Randle.
🚨 NEW ON TKW 🚨
After playing sparingly together in Boston, Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier will team up to help fix the Knicks offense from last season.@CinquiniJesse on what to expect from the two in NY ⤵️https://t.co/HPlbeUQD7a
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) August 19, 2021
Fournier is a career role player and Walker appears to be past his prime.
Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Knicks were “star hunting” this offseason.
While nothing happened, it shows the front office is asking around the league.
Pairing a superstar with Randle and Barrett would better position the Knicks to compete with the Nets.
It just remains to be seen how long that could take to happen.